TCM welcomes my dear friend Cassandra Hanslip to the blog. Cassandra and I used to work together and she is making leaps and strides in this weight-loss game! I’m so proud of her and so inspired by her words as well as fitness journey–I feel like she wrote this for me! I hope that someone else can related to this and gets the inspiration like I did! Read on and show Cassandra some love!
My weight loss journey has been a little different than many, because I lost weight after having my daughter, and then proceeded to gain it back (and more) over the summer. Returning to work with a little one was stressful, to say the least. If I had to narrow down the cause of the weight gain, I would say it was stress and a little bit of depression, which all led to a huge lack of self-care. I wasn’t working out. I ate ice cream like it was the base of the healthy food pyramid. Seriously. If Ben & Jerry’s had a profit spike last summer, it was me.
In December 2014, hubby and I decided to join a new gym that was closer to our house. I reasoned that if it was closer, easier to get to, and had daycare, I would be more likely to go. Our membership included a free assessment with a trainer, so I set up my appointment to meet with Cindy. We sat and talked for a bit, and then we went over to the dreaded scale. I’m not sure what I thought it would say, but I surely did NOT think it would say 186 pounds. I was verklempt, to say the least. Like, honestly, the rest of the appointment with her it was all I could do not to burst out crying. How did I get here? I didn’t even stay to work out after our assessment. I sat in my car, cried for about 10 minutes, and then I went home.
And then I had to make a plan. Although I had gotten comfortable at that size, I just got an honest assessment about where I was. My body fat was high, and at 5’2” I didn’t need to be carrying that much around. My knees were hurting every day. Once you have honestly assessed the situation, then you come up with a plan. I knew it had to include exercise, and it definitely had to include eating better. The next day, I started my weight loss journey. I took a photo of myself in my sports bra, so I could have an honest picture of where I was, and to use for comparison down the road.
Here are some of the things that have worked for me on my journey:
1. Get a check-up. Make sure there aren’t hormonal imbalances or health issues that are impeding your ability to lose weight. Thankfully I didn’t have any of those challenges. I just needed to start making better choices.
2. I had to revamp my eating. Easier said than done, but it really is the biggest component of weight loss. You can’t out-train a bad diet. This is also a challenge for me because I don’t like to cook. I do it because I have to and my family needs to eat. Before my weight loss journey, I was not eating often enough during the day, and then eating the wrong things. My lack of energy and lack of enough sleep was causing me to reach for sugary drinks and sweets. Included in my new gym membership was a free consultation with the nutritionist. I talked to her about my typical day and she said she didn’t want to suggest a very regimented eating plan for me because that would be one more thing for me to stress about. She just encouraged me to start with little things. Eat more fruits. Eat more veggies. Drink more water. Work on one thing at a time. So I did. I startedworking on eating 5 times per day. Now for me, that was about 250-300 calories for 4 of those “meals,” and then 400-600 for 1 – usually lunch. Also, it was easier for me if two of those meals were protein shakes, with either added fruit or peanut or almond butter. It was easy to blend one of those up while fixing dinner for family.
3. Don’t buy your trigger food(s). Again, easier said than done. When I don’t buy ice cream, I don’t really think about it. If it’s in the house, I will eat it. That’s pretty much a no brainer. Although sometimes I don’t follow it. I’m a work in progress. LOL
4. Get active again! I started off small. I would do some cardio at the gym, and I love yoga. I worked it out with hubby to where Tuesday and Thursday evenings were my nights to attend yoga classes at the gym. Start off with 2-3 times a week, and go from there. If you try to make yourself workout every day, and then you don’t, you’re going to feel disappointed. Set up a schedule that works for your life. A ‘work out’ could be pushing the baby stroller around the neighborhood. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. I eventually paid for some personal trainer sessions when I felt I had reached a plateau, and he was very helpful with my knee issues.
5. Do the things that you like. It is important to do some strength training, because adding muscle to your frame will ultimately help you burn fat. But if weight lifting isn’t your thing, don’t try to force yourself into a complicated strength training regimen. If you like yoga, do yoga. Take some vinyasa classes that will help you tone up and get your heart rate up. I like strength training, but some days I’m just not feeling it. I go for cardio and stretching and I’ve still gotten some movement in. If you like to run, try to work back up to that. But if you hate running, don’t even put it in your training plan.
6. You have to schedule your self-care. I don’t necessarily use a planner in my daily life, but if that works for you, do it. Get your significant other’s buy-in. You need them to support your journey. That might mean arranging/paying for a baby sitter if it’s during a time when neither of you can be home. Or just making sure you schedule workouts so that home is taken care of. That means sticking to the schedule. He can’t be trying to go watch the game with the boys, if you guys agreed that you get an hour of workout time.
7. Find your support. You have to meet people where they are at. You may have some friends and family who aren’t ready to start a journey to healthier living right now. That’s fine. Go out and find the people who are. Start a group or join in when friends are having challenges. I’m currently in a 30 for 30 challenge – we committed to doing 30 minutes of some type of activity for 30 days this month, or making sure to have 30 active minutes, for those who use a FitBit. The person who started the challenge made a Facebook page, and we have to post a screen shot of our activity by 11:59pm each night. Having that group has really motivated me to work out on the days when I really wanted to skip it.
8. Stay off the scale. At least for a little while. Get your starting weight and starting measurements, and then look for other ways to track your gains. Pay attention to how your clothing fits. If you have a heart rate monitor, pay attention to how long it takes you to recover after you after doing an intense interval. Maybe there’s a big hill in your neighborhood that you couldn’t get to the top without stopping. You might look up one day and find yourself at the top and not even realize that you didn’t stop. Those are the types of gains that will make you happy. If you get on the scale every day, or every other day, you could be setting yourself up for discouragement. There are so many factors that go into what we weigh. Even when you are doing the “right” things, the number could go up.
9. Be patient with yourself and try not to compare to the past. You didn’t gain the weight overnight, and you won’t lose it overnight. I had to learn to celebrate small successes, like longer time spent on the cardio machines, or increased intensity. Every little change is a good change. Back in 2004, I gained some weight that had nothing to do with having a baby. I was able to challenge myself to lose that weight, in preparation for a trip to Hawaii with my BFFs. It was so much easier then. The weight just dropped off, and I kept it off for a while. I had to realize that losing weight at 40 – with a husband and a child – is not the same as losing weight while single and 30. And that’s ok. I have to work with what I have now.
10. Know that it’s ok to be concerned about YOU. As moms, we feel like we have to take care of the world. We have to make sure the kids and hubby are good. We want to spend quality time with friends and family. We want to have time to just veg out and do nothing. Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in the day and you may not get everything done. One of the things I struggled with was feeling guilty about being away from my daughter or my husband when I was in a yoga class, or doing something to make myself feel better. I had to give myself pep talks about that often. They don’t love me any less because I spend an hour at the gym on Saturday or Sunday. A happier me is better able to connect with my family.
Just know that you can do it! It hasn’t been all rainbows and unicorns, but I have shed about 20 pounds (and kept it off) over the last 8 months. I am still working on some goals, but definitely appreciate the milestones I’ve reached thus far.